Comprehensive Lower Body Warm-Up

Will Ruth

Activate your muscles, gain mobility in target areas, and enhance performance with this <5 minute lower body warm-up. This will work for any athletes as most people in our desk-bound society have tight hip flexors and groin muscles that need to be stretched and slack glutes that need to be activated. This warm-up also helps groove the squat and hip hinge movements used in almost all sports and lower body workouts. Click “more” below the video to read the full explanation!


  1. Straight Leg Swing
    1. Dynamically stretch the hamstrings and hip flexors. Keep your torso braced and upright, don’t dip the chest down, and keep knees almost locked out.
  2. Deep Squat Progression
    1. Groove the hinge and squat pattern while dynamically stretching the hamstrings, groin, and mid-back muscles. Hip hinge down to comfortable hamstring limit, bend forward and grab the top of your feet with elbows inside the knees, then squat down as far as you can, applying pressure against the insides of your knees with the elbows to stretch the groin. Hold this for 1-2 seconds, then keep the arms straight and raise them as high over your head as you can, still staying in the squat position. Stand up straight, then repeat from the start 10 times.
  3. 3-Way Hip Opener
    1. Stretch the hip flexors and groin muscles.
  4. Donkey Kick/Pendulum Hip Extension
    1. Activate the gluteus maximus. On your hands and knees, keep hips flat and flex the glute of one leg to extend it straight behind you. Return to all fours and then repeat 10 times on the same leg. Switch and do the other side.
  5. Dirty Dog/Fire Hydrant
    1. Activate the gluteus medius. On your hands and knees, keep hips flat and raise one leg like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant. Repeat 10 times each leg. Don’t worry about getting absolute maximum range of motion, keep the hips flat and try to feel the side/rear of your hips doing the work. That is your gluteus medius.
  6. Glute Bridge
    1. Activate the gluteus maximus. Keep upper back and heels firmly on the ground, then flex the glutes to thrust the hips into the air. Keep the abs braced throughout the movement and do not overextend at the low back to get extra range-of-motion.
  7. Glute March
    1. Activate the gluteus maximus and work single leg hip extension. Same position as the glute bridge, but thrust your hips up and then keep them there while “marching” one leg at a time in place. When one foot lifts, the other side’s glute will have to work extra to maintain extension. 10 lifts on each leg, alternating legs.
  8. Bodyweight Squat or Jump Squat
    Screen shot 2015-08-31 at 9.59.09 PM

    “3rd World Squat”

    1. Get everything working together with 10 reps of the bodyweight squat or jump squat.
    2. Bonus (not shown): Sit in the bottom of the deep squat position with feet as close together as you can. This is called the “3rd World Squat” and is highly useful for rowing. Try to keep the chest as high as possible and sit in this position for 1-3 minutes to improve compression at the catch. This is great to do multiple times a day too if you are struggling with compression, just try to rack up time throughout the day. My athletes who struggle with this do it while they brush their teeth, play video games, etc.

The bodyweight squat should also be your test to identify any areas needing extra attention. If your hip flexors feel tight, hit the 3-way opener again, if your glutes feel sluggish or tight, stretch or activate them again with the donkey kick or glute bridge. I also recommend using a foam roller, lacrosse ball, tennis ball, or doing static stretching for any problem areas at this point. I generally do not recommend static stretching before training, but it has its merit in specific cases as there are some people who can only reach certain positions required for their sport with additional stretching.

warm up

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